It’s a startling fact, that 7 out of 10 customers never return to their selling dealer…even after painstakingly selecting them and making a major purchase decision to buy a vehicle from them. Why is this happening? There are two underlying reasons (that do not include price) that are the primary contributors to this unacceptable and industry alarming truth. Everyone should be paying attention, because the revenue lost as a result is equally startling.

The first major contributor to poor customer retention is how a dealer communicates (or tries to communicate) with their customers after the point-of-sale today. Phone solicitations, junk mail (postal or email) and random text messages are the current primary communication pathways. For clarity, I say “random” text messages because that’s what they are…random. Here’s the fundamental problem, all of these methods are interpreted by customers today as being fraudulent (aka “scam”). Ask yourself, do you engage phone solicitations, junk mail or random text messages when you receive them? Of course not! We’re all conditioned to delete, ignore or trash these types of communications.

Of course, it all begins with the selling the customer a car, but should it end there? Are we exclusively trying to sell a car to the customer or earn a relationship that includes the customer’s purchase and ownership journey?

So, how should a dealer engage today’s remote, digitally centric customer, to achieve the desired results? Push notifications by far have the highest engagement rate, because they are displayed on the user’s smartphone homepage (even when the phone is locked) without any interaction required and with the clear transparency of “who” is sending the message. Exactly the opposite of phone solicitations, junk mail and random text messages, we are all conditioned to engage these push notifications because they are an intuitive part of interacting with our smartphones everyday. However, delivering these highly desirable push notifications requires a connection to their customer’s smartphone, which by the way is exactly where the dealer needs to be connected.

The Your Dealer Experience (YDE) platform, by Strategic DX, Inc., is a foundational element to modernizing dealer-customer post sales engagement, with many transformative solutions. YDE innovates Dealer Messaging, empowering a dealer to connect (and stay connected) with their customers using this simple principle in a dealer branded app on their customer’s smartphones (with effective app adoption tools to ensure success). Push notifications and stylized messaging inspires engagement, promotes a connected response and fulfills the desired result. It’s not if we connect, but how we connect to our customers that inspires additional revenue/retention…or not. Business is built on relationships (cliché but true). Healthy, long-lasting relationships are build on good communication.

Dealer Messages

What should the first Dealer Messaging be from the dealer to their customer, after the point-of-sale? How about the dealer principle letting their new customer sincerely know, “Thank you for buying a vehicle from us and welcome to our family. We’re looking forward to enhancing your ownership journey!”, with a link to a personalized video and an invitation to return to the dealer for their first car wash and/or oil change? Maybe a follow-up Dealer Messaging, “You’re on the right path to an enriched ownership experience and we’re here to support you!”, with a link to the dealer’s service drive schedule platform and a video highlighting the services the dealer offers or a personal tour of the service department and its unique ability to support their customers, hosted by the dealer’s service manager. Future Dealer Messaging would include service drive specials, community events sponsored by the dealer, home delivery service and offers to purchase additional F&I products that were missed at the point-of-sale. Shouldn’t these be the first and continuing steps to earning, building and maintaining an ownership relationship?

YDE also solves the multiple third part administrator (TPA) claims service engagement maze by connecting all the participating and valued TPAs behind the scenes to the dealer’s branded YDE app, so the customer and service advisor have one simple engagement pathway to intuitively support all their service contract/warranty needs (list of all the customer’s purchased agreements even when supported by multiple TPAs, easy accessibility to service contract/warranty definitions, completely file/interact/get the resulting service from a claim and even purchase additional coverage). By unifying this process, it eliminates the analog anarchy of multiple TPAs’ 1800 numbers, CALL HOLD WAIT TIMES, archaic fill-in-all-the-blanks online claim forms and the lunacy of multiple apps that only work with certain F&I products or a single TPA. YDE has refined the F&I claims engagement process, not just digitalized the old process. An enriched, intuitive solution that dramatically improves the service advisor/customer experience, while removing the longstanding operational inefficiencies for the TPAs by improving loss control, promoting faster claim processing and dramatically reducing call center phone volume and manual claim entry. TPAs can keep their current admin platform, but plug-in the YDE solution today to gain new competitive differentiation, deliver a relevant experience and help their dealers improve revenue and meaningful customer retention. Isn’t that what our collective industry mission is suppose to be?

The second major contributor to poor customer retention is the auto “sales” or auto “retailing” industry’s proposition to the customer. Most (if not nearly all) of our industry’s customer engagement horsepower is spent and focused on selling the customer a car. Take for instance the very valuable and timely growth of digital “retailing”. Although tactically very import to open a new revenue conduit for a dealer, that digital retailing engagement process abruptly ends at the point-of-sale, because its only mission is to help the dealer sell a car. This is where our industry has it critically wrong. Of course, it all begins with the selling the customer a car, but should it end there? Are we exclusively trying to sell a car to the customer or earn a relationship that includes the customer’s purchase and ownership journey?

Everyone, including from all generations, has adopted Amazon. The mission of Amazon is NOT the one time digital purchase. It’s the iron clad loyalty earned from delivering the whole experience (before and after the sale), that keeps the customer coming back again…and again. The data is clear, our industry’s current efforts are to sell a car. If we embraced our customers for more than just selling them a car, our customers would embrace our industry after the point-of-sale. Think Digital Lifecycle and deliver it with Your Dealer Experience!